Rites v. Rights; Dialing for Dollars; Quo Warranto, Allegiance to Flags...
So many topics to address this past month; I can't decide on one. These were at the top of my list:
*Rites v. Rights...
not surprisingly the Roberts Court once again gets it wrong in their crusade for bigger government. A friend called it DC still drunk on the 'Grapes of Wrath.' Marriage is a religious rite. There is no authority for the federal government to impede or subsidize this rite. It was a source of despair when I went to marry. The State of South Carolina would not allow me to pursue this solemn rite I hold dear without a State license, polluting this blessed event. I do not look to governments (esp. our most coercive federal government) for validation of this rite nor do I look to government(s) to define or establish my dignity. Once abusing their power to impede the right to religious ceremonies of this sort, it was just a matter of time for the pollutant would metastasize into yet another type of cancer destroying our economy.
The earlier Supreme Court of the United States same sex marriage ruling was correct - it was disuniform for the same sex taxable event to pay more in inheritance taxes -- was the problem with marriage or with taxation in manner the federal government was never designed to use? So instead of addressing the source of problem (which would disempower federal hegemony) the Supreme Court further empowered US toward self-destruction as the courts open the door to even more distortions in our economy. The federal government has no authority to recognize, facilitate or impede different religious rites. It may chose which contracts from various nations and States between individuals for the small number of (if DC only does those few things authorized) federal employees to determine pay and benefits, for purposes of immigration & naturalization, etc. If State and/or local government(s) want to recognize different religious rites/contracts of their employees to improve their hiring pool - OK, even if I disagree with it; just as some States had their own supported religions in the 1800s. Can’t imagine any more damning statement about one’s faith in their religion than thinking it requires support from government(s). Competition (if allowed) between sovereign States will limit distortion/subsidies of this sort as we watched State religions disappear. More to the point, I'll look for the employer who pays the best so I may then decide insurance, etc. for my spouse and children which best serves my circumstances.
Furthermore, if I want to attend a church which does/doesn't perform the rite of marriage I prefer, I may decide accordingly - the federal government has NO authority (1st Amendment) to address the issue. The reason for use of equal protection in the matter of marriage is the wealth transfers started by big government conservatives wanting to subsidize their preferred religious rite. How's that worked out for them? Seems churches were more effective before turning their duties over to government(s) and letting judges and legislators calibrate their moral compasses. Sadly, this 'well intentioned' notion of subsidizing marriage fertilizes seeds of destruction, accelerating US to the usual end of a command economy. Far too many will falsely assert the downfall is because of same sex couples who have been active in our economies throughout history. The group of libertarians [gay & straight] trying to get government(s) out of the marriage license business is disappearing. Yet another group has succumbed to the lure of transfers and government subsidy over freedom and discipline of market forces. I find little discussion of this adding yet more recipients into the mix of deleterious wealth transfer activity strangling our economy. So let's get to my point as the oft hated economist - the impact of added spousal claims upon the Social Security Administration (SSA) largely unaddressed among the cheering lips and gnashing of teeth.
All I've found (thus far) is a June 21, 2004 CBO letter from Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin to Representative Steve Chabot, Chairman of the Sub-committee on the Constitution and Committee on the Judiciary in the U.S. House of Representatives; https://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/06-21-samesexmarriage.pdf. Their analysis of the potential budgetary effects of recognizing same-sex marriages is dated, so discount accordingly. Given past interactions with my House of Representatives member (Mike Rogers) on simple financing of public projects, it is clear he doesn't possess the integrity nor intelligence to address financial matters of this sort - please consider contacting others (Aderholt, Brooks, et al) who can understand what is evolving. CBO wrote the following I found of interest:
"The federal government does not recognize “marriages” of same-sex couples either for receipt of federal benefits or for tax purposes. The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (Public Law 104-199) provides that the federal government will honor only marriages between one man and one woman. It also stipulates that no state, territory, or possession of the United States or Indian tribe can be required to recognize a same-sex marriage performed in any other jurisdiction. The potential effects on the federal budget of recognizing same-sex marriages are numerous. Marriage can affect a person’s eligibility for federal benefits such as Social Security. Married couples may incur higher or lower federal tax liabilities than they would as single individuals. In all, the General Accounting Office has counted 1,138 statutory provisions—ranging from the obvious cases just mentioned to the obscure (landowners’ eligibility to negotiate a surface-mine lease with the Secretary of Labor)—in which marital status is a factor in determining or receiving “benefits, rights, and privileges.”
It is time to have a serious analysis of SSA (and other programs installed by big government extremists these past several decades) to better forecast future budgeting. Clearly 'equal protection' not to be forced/mandated into command economy programs of this sort is not going to happen until history brings US to a close. In their discussion of these 1,138 provisions over a decade ago, CBO wrote:
"In some cases, recognizing same-sex marriages would increase outlays and revenues; in other cases, it would have the opposite effect. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that on net, those impacts would improve the budget’s bottom line to a small extent: by less than $1 billion in each of the next 10 years (CBO’s usual estimating period). That result assumes that same-sex marriages are legalized in all 50 states and recognized by the federal government. The number of same-sex couples who would marry if they had the opportunity is unknown, but the 2000 census offers some insights. The census does not ask about sexual orientation, but it allows people living with a nonrelative to identify themselves as “partners” instead of “housemates/roommates.” Almost 600,000 households (or 1.2 million people) identified themselves as same-sex partners in 2000, roughly half in male couples and half in female couples. They represented about 0.6 percent of the total adult population and almost 1 percent of people between the ages of 30 and 50."
Note CBO (Congressional Budget Office) asserts their numbers on who will actually marry (nor addresses those like me considering renouncing their government marriage) is unknown, but the time is long overdue to get an updated, more complete analysis to Congress which addresses those who will divorce/marry for financially strategic and/or moral purposes. Perhaps this will bankrupt/end SSA more quickly to provide relief to our youth and increase the blessings of liberty for our posterity. It is possible when all 1,138 statutory distortions play out it will net a negligible difference, but it seems unlikely when individuals actually respond to this change.
A little more text from CBO before bringing this topic to a close:
"Marital status has a direct impact on people’s eligibility for some federal payments, such as Social Security benefits, veterans’ benefits, and civil service and military pensions. It can affect other benefits indirectly if a spouse’s income and assets enter into determinations of eligibility. The discussion below focuses on so-called mandatory, or direct, spending—programs like Social Security that make payments to anyone who is qualified and applies—because the budgetary effects on those programs of recognizing same-sex marriages would occur automatically and would not depend on future annual appropriations. Recognizing same-sex marriages would increase outlays for Social Security and for the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program, CBO estimates, but would reduce spending for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, and Medicare. Effects on other programs would be negligible. Altogether, CBO concludes, recognizing same-sex marriages would affect outlays by less than $50 million a year in either direction through 2009 and reduce them by about $100 million to $200 million annually from 2010 through 2014. With estimated payments of $488 billion in 2004, Social Security is both the largest federal program and the one in which marital history plays the greatest role in determining benefits."
*Dialing for Dollars
Senator Gerald Dial (R-Lineville) has been one of the biggest champions of big, deleterious government in our State as a modern Democrat. Now an integral part of the Hubbard machine (Dial is one of the biggest recipients of BCA money) front running for corrupt pay raises, special election tax increases, etc. in the Senate (Hubbard uses Representative Peblin Warren in the House to do his bidding) Dial released the following statement regarding how the legislature should (mis)use the BP settlement:
“The BP settlement will provide approximately $1 billion to the State of Alabama. Attorney General Luther Strange and the Beasley Allen law firm are to be commended for their hard work in holding BP accountable and securing this settlement. Over the years, I have seen other opportunities to reach a settlement fall by the wayside, and the Offshore Oil Settlement has still yet to be resolved. This was a wise move by General Strange and Governor Robert Bentley. According to discussions I have had with financial experts, we can discount the 18-year $1 billion settlement on the fair market for an immediate $700-800 million. It would be the best use of these funds to immediately pay back the debt we owe to the Alabama Trust Fund, which is around $500 million. Since stripping the ATF, we have seen a drastic decrease in interest income to the General Fund, and my proposal would correct that situation.”
It appears the Senator is once again ‘Dialing for dollars’ to abscond the responsibility of balancing our State budget using BP settlement payments. Let's ship this Republocrat to Greece - seems he could postpone their fiscal discipline a little longer with creative financing of this sort. After robbing $437 million from our trust fund (wasting $3 million on a SPECIAL election where only 14% of eligible voters approved, knowing it would fail if placed on the regularly scheduled General election ballot 49 days later) in 2012 to avoid balancing the budget, now Dial wants to sell the BP annuity at "fair" market to pay off Goat Hill’s refusing to make the tough decisions required to balance these past years’ budgets; then use the remainder of the settlement to not make the difficult decisions required to balance the current budget in Montgomery. Just like the EC admitting Greece (knowing they were lying about their financial status) enabled the big government thugs to get them further into their unsustainable mess, robbing our trust fund and now the BP settlement will prolong the fiscal discipline our State requires. The pain and damage will be all the more profound for us if Senator Dial is successful at yet another of his schemes. Of course, this sort of ‘Dialing for Dollars’ comes easier for those who believe they'll not be around to suffer the consequences of their folly. In closing on this topic, I'll simply ask our more competent, uncorrupted legislators on Goat Hill to watch this one closely. I forecast whoever purchases this annuity will make out like typical political bandits (remember the bond and spend spree that started at the close of the James administration and went into overdrive with the Riley/Hubbard machine?) we've observed since letting the two corrupt party system ‘tag team’ our State.
On a brighter note, in a recent e-mail exchange with Senator Ward, he informed me I got my number wrong on the first (abbreviated) year of funding his prison reform legislation - it will only be $12 million (not $26) to begin the program to reduce our bloated prison population and avoid the more costly result of federal takeover. Tell your legislators it is time to shrink government of all endeavors better provided by the private sector to accomplish the few legitimate functions of State government like our prison system more efficiently. Still waiting on more legislative debate on no-bid medical contracts for corrections facilities...
Appeal to the Alabama Supreme court was filed by Don Casey with the concurrence of the other 11 Relators July 8th. Assistant Attorney General Long's attempt to defend Senator Marsh based on spurious arguments were well rebutted at every point in the counter brief. Once again the State could not come up with anything new or defensible, again trying to assert legislative immunity and attempts to convince the court these 12 brave relators are Plaintiffs in suit against Marsh in a justifiable controversy, which is NOT so. Much like where Myron Thompson was not competent enough (or too corrupt) to understand when State & federal governments wrongfully took the home we held legal title to, paying taxes on, etc. we were DEFENDANTS not plaintiffs; these twelve Alabama citizens steadfastly maintained they're relators only, bringing forth information in the nature of a quo warranto with a simple question for Sen. Marsh to answer. That question is: Where is his authority to rewrite our Constitution in the manner he's attempting? - which Senator Marsh has failed to provide. Please pray the Court will rule in our favor these 12 citizens relate for the general welfare our State. If not, then it is safe to say one of our very last checks on despotic government via our once just system of jurisprudence has indeed been lost.
*Allegiance to Flags
When I began the first draft of this column I planned to address inappropriate flags which have flown/still fly over our State capitol, but recently learned of the untimely death of Mr. Anthony Hervey (49) whom I’d recently heard speak (the best in my opinion) at the Confederate Monument Event up in Birmingham. The MacAlester News-Capital reported Arlene Barnham had given Hervey a ride to the rally and on their way back to Oxford the fatal wreck occurred. Reportedly, Hervey was driving and feared they were being chased. Hervey told Barnham he noticed a silver car speeding to catch up to them, and then it swerved into their passenger side. Barnham told the News-Capital even when Hervey sped up to get away, the car continued to pursue them. At some point, that's what she said caused the crash. While the names of Crispis Attucks, Heyward Shepherd, et al are largely forgotten, please keep Mr. Hervey and his family in your prayers - may Anthony’s memory be eternal through the Spirit of Jesus Christ he venerated so well. I can still see/hear him in my mind speaking before the crowd telling all, “Tell the truth; shame the devil!” I also pray Mrs. Barnham mends well from her injuries - it seems there’s still no shortage of those willing to kill to advance their hatred -- we’ll see if those responsible are brought to justice.
Hervey authored a book entitled "Why I wave the Confederate Flag: Written by a Black Man." Well-known for donning a Confederate uniform and waving a Battle flag on the Oxford square, he’d often attract a crowd as he spoke about the history and his views on the subject. The South has lost one of her native sons who exemplified the best Spirit in the Heart of Dixie.